Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He writes columns for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe and the New York Times international edition. 

Recent Articles

Rights Wronged

The other day, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, scrapped the moronic rule requiring everyone to stay seated for 30 minutes coming in or out of Washington's National Airport. The premise of the rule, enacted after September 11, was that if everyone remained in their seats, it would be illegal for a terrorist to rush the cockpit. Apparently, it didn't occur to the genius who wrote the order that only law-abiding citizens would obey. It's a perfect, if small, example of the idiocy of unchecked state power. Chertoff did not change the rule because some open evidentiary process required him to, but because he felt like it. As an immensely powerful official in an increasingly authoritarian age, he did it as a regal act of noblesse oblige: In my majesty/I now decree/the people are free/to go and pee. As his reason for granting relief, so to speak, Chertoff disingenuously declared that security conditions had improved. This was the week of the London bombings. But as...

Exit With Honor

The American people want out of Iraq, but critics of the Iraq War seem stymied by the mess that the Bush policy has created. Here is an exit strategy that makes sense as geopolitics and domestic politics: The U.S. commits to leave Iraq on a date certain, say August 1, 2006. We use this yearlong period to negotiate the creation of an international peacekeeping entity, also responsible for aiding Iraq's reconstruction. The date certain signals that we're serious. This force would include troops from moderate Muslim nations, such as Tunisia and Egypt; other nonaligned nations such as India; and traditional peacekeepers, such as the Scandinavian countries. It could be sponsored by the United Nations or as a freestanding body. The U.S. would pay at least half the cost. This policy works on four grounds. First, it re-engages the international community with an enterprise in which the United States has placed itself in costly and feckless isolation. It would also help repair the broader...

Bubblehead

Most economists expect something bad to happen to the U.S. economy sometime this decade, due to the deficit and debt overhang, the trade imbalance, the dependence on foreign borrowing, the sundry asset bubbles, and more. When the history of the next crash is written, President Bush's appointment of California Republican Congressman Christopher Cox to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) during this fragile era will deserve its own chapter. If confirmed, as he almost surely will be, Cox could very well be Bush's single most destructive regulatory appointee. Financial markets are one of the very few areas where even laissez-faire types concede that a measure of regulation is necessary. But Cox is a true believer who imagines that financial markets can police themselves. He has been a relentless foe of even the modest regulation enacted by the outgoing Republican SEC chairman, William Donaldson. The two other Republican commissioners are ideological clones of Cox, who will...

When Secrets are Lies

Consider a startling idea. Matt Cooper of Time magazine was right to testify before the grand jury and identify Karl Rove as the leak. The definition of the Valerie Plame story has now shifted from its first phase (minor, not very newsworthy leak) to a second phase emphasizing the First Amendment (outrage that special counsel is squeezing reporters to testify) to a third phase where it properly belongs (very big story of Karl Rove and Bush White House illegally breaching national security for crass political purposes). There is, at last, plenty of attention to the weaselly Rove, who may finally get what's coming to him. But we should linger awhile on phase two, for the Rove/Plame story casts the issue of press privilege in a new and paradoxical light. It's in the DNA of every working journalist to insist, almost subconsciously, that reporters should never disclose their sources -- ever. Presumably this is one of those high principles and bright lines that is best kept clear and never...

Roving Target

We may soon know who outed Valerie Plame, and a lot of signs point to Karl Rove. If this turns out to be the case, it will be explosive to say the least. Whichever high administration officials turn out to be the culprits, it's appalling that the Bush White House first betrayed a loyal CIA career official in order to punish her husband, Joseph Wilson IV, for having told the truth and embarrassing the administration, and then conspired in a cover-up. The back story: Readers will recall that columnist Robert Novak published Plame's identity, citing two high administration officials as his sources. Plame's husband, Wilson, had undertaken a secret mission at the request of the CIA to investigate what proved to be a fake story about the government of Niger providing nuclear material to Saddam Hussein. The Niger story figured prominently in President Bush's justification for war and his disparagement of UN weapons inspectors, even though it had already been disproven by Wilson's mission...

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